All Ocean-Going Ships Near California's Coast Must Now Use Cleaner Fuel


Photo: Flickr, CC
This is a Big Deal
A Californian regulation mandating that all ocean-going vessels within 24 miles of the state's coast must use cleaner burning low-sulfur diesel fuel is now in effect. This will have a big impact on air quality (big cargo ships have terrible emissions, and we too often overlook them and focus on cars & trucks), reducing smog and saving an estimated 3,600 people from premature deaths between 2009 and 2015. "The requirement, adopted in 2008, will annually affect nearly 2,000 ocean-going vessels, both U.S. flagged and foreign-flagged, visiting California." Read on for more details.

Photo: Flickr, CC

The California Air Resource Board writes:

Today's switch will eliminate about a 75 percent of the diesel [particulate matter] (PM), over 80% of the sulfur oxides and 6 percent of the nitrogen oxides. In 2012, when the very low sulfur fuel is required, reductions of diesel particulate matter will be 15 tons daily, an 83 percent reduction compared to uncontrolled emissions. Sulfur oxides will be reduced by 140 tons daily, a 95 percent reduction and nitrogen oxides will be reduced by 11 tons per day, a 6 percent reduction.

The sulfur content in the fuel will be reduced by phases. GCC writes: "In 2009, MGO (marine gasoil) must have a sulfur limit of 1.5% (15,000 ppm), while MDO (marine diesel oil) would have a limit of 0.5% (5,000 ppm). In 2012, the limits for both fuels drops to 0.1% (1,000 ppm)."

Since this regulation targets the fuel and not the engines of the ships, it's harder to just move the problem around and sent the most polluting ships to developing countries with lax environmental regulations, increasing the problem over there.

We hope that other states and other countries will follow suit (especially Europe), because, according to the Guardian, "Just 15 of the world's biggest ships may now emit as much pollution as all the world's 760m cars".

Via CARB, Green Car Congress
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